Sparks approves recreational marijuana sales licensing

The City of Sparks on July 10 approved on a 3 to 2 vote revisions to city codes to allow existing medical marijuana businesses to be licensed to sell recreational cannabis. The action opens the door for the city’s three medical marijuana dispensaries — Silver State Relief, Reef Dispensaries, Greenleaf — to begin selling recreational cannabis soon. Steve Duque, co-owner of Greenleaf Wellness, said they expect to have their license application filed today. “The city is telling us they hope to launch all of us Friday or most likely Saturday,” Duque said. “We’re as ready as we can be.” Reef Dispensaries confirmed it was on track to sell recreational marijuana by Aug. 1. Recreational cannabis sales began July 1 in Reno with lines wrapping around blocks with customers waiting for the chance to legally buy marijuana. Sales in Sparks had to wait until yesterday’s action in the city council meeting. The city will charge the maximum amount allowed by state law for licenses to sell recreational marijuana: a one-time application fee of $5,000, and quarterly gross receipts tax of 3 percent. Whether the revenues will cover the city’s costs is an unknown since the industry is new, and that was a matter of concern for members of the council. “How does this work if, in middle of this year, which just started, with the increase costs and need for more staff, would the revenue be there or would it have to wait a year?” Councilwoman Charlene Bybee asked during the council meeting. Bybee, along with Councilman Kristopher Dahir, voted against the proposed changes to the city code to allow licensing for recreational marijuana. With so many unknowns in terms of revenue and costs as well as what recreational marijuana would do to the community, Dahir said, “I value what we have and will continue to do so and because of that I ask that we don’t do this at this time.” Will Adler, executive director with Sierra Cannabis Coalition, pointed out that it’s already legal in the state. Sparks citizens can legally purchase recreational marijuana in Reno and bring it back to Sparks to consume. By not approving sales, “Sparks is just missing out on the transactional value of selling marijuana,” he told the council. “In general, Sparks has done one of the better jobs of regulating marijuana sales in Nevada,” he continued. “You’ve limited dispensaries to commercial and industrial zones. You’re not going to have them over by Scheels, you’re not going to have them where you don’t want them to be. Other places like Los Vegas have been much more lax.” Councilman Ed Lawson noted that Nevada’s marijuana laws are much different than those in Colorado. “In Colorado, anyone who wants to grow it to sell can come in and get a license,” Lawson said. “That’s not how we did it in Nevada. Specifically in Sparks, which has three (medical marijuana dispensaries), all three are located in industrial areas right where the police department said it was easier to enforce the law.”


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